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Dual Diagnosis: Managing Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

Addiction is a difficult battle on its own. Unfortunately, many people have a mental disorder on top of their substance abuse problems. At Harmony Junction, we recognize the need for treatment for co-occurring disorders in long-term recovery.

In this blog, we’ll look at the following:

How Does Mental Health Impact Addiction And Treatment?

Mental health plays a significant role in the development of and outcome of addiction. Many people who experience mental health disorders are more susceptible to addiction, while addiction itself can magnify or cause mental health symptoms.

In one study, 26.5% of meth-dependent individuals had anxiety disorders, and 3.7% had a substance-induced anxiety disorder. Another study shared that 25% of people with major depressive disorder (MDD) also have substance use disorders simultaneously.

The Effects of Substance Abuse on Mental Health

Substance abuse can create “substance-induced” disorders. These are regular mental health conditions that are brought on by abusing drugs or alcohol. If you already have a pre-existing mental condition, substances can worsen this. Just consider the facts below:

Why Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Important?

In treatment, it’s important to address mental health and substance abuse as separate problems and as a dual diagnosis. The term dual diagnosis is used to describe someone with a co-existing mental illness and substance use disorder. A comprehensive treatment plan can adequately address both problems.

Is Dual Diagnosis Common?

Yes, dual diagnosis is very prevalent among people with either a mental illness or SUD. In 2022, 48.7 million Americans age 12 or older had a substance use disorder, and nearly 50 million Americans had a mental illness. Of those people, 21.5 million have a dual diagnosis. That’s almost 6.5% of the U.S. population.

What Are The Challenges In Treating Dual Diagnoses?

Effective substance use disorder and mental health treatment requires a specialized approach. It’s crucial to comprehensively address both conditions to fully understand how they impact each other.

Thorough Diagnosis

Many people with an addiction are aware that they have coexisting conditions, but they aren’t quite sure what they are. When in our care, we must make sure you’re given the proper diagnosis to tailor you to the right recovery program.

Specialized Treatment

Dual diagnosis takes an integrated and individualized approach to address both substance abuse and mental health disorders. Depending on your struggle, your treatment and support may look entirely different than another patient’s.

Risk of Relapse

Due to the common issue of self-medication, dual diagnosis can put individuals at a higher risk for relapse. Again, that’s why we heal both conditions so that your mental health doesn’t trigger substance abuse in the future.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis at its core is having a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder. One or both of these may not be officially diagnosed for you yet, leaving you unsure whether you’re experiencing a singular or dual problem. Consider the following symptoms that are commonly seen in patients with dual diagnosis.

  • Inability to stop the use of the substance despite negative effects
  • Developing a high tolerance for the substance
  • Needing the substance to feel “normal”
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping or lowering the dose of the substance
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Sudden behavioral changes/mood swings
  • Taking part in risky behaviors
  • Confusion
  • Inability to function in work or school
  • Relationship problems
  • Thoughts of suicide

If these symptoms resonate with you or a loved one, it’s crucial to contact professional help, whether that be your doctor or a treatment center. They will have the expertise and tools to provide a proper diagnosis for mental health disorders and evaluate your substance abuse.

Which Disorder Comes First In A Dual Diagnosis?

There’s no definitive answer to which disorder is more likely to occur first. What matters is the impact these two conditions can have on one another. There are many cases where a person’s mental health plays a role in substance dependence, and vice versa, where addiction manifests mental illness symptoms.

What Are The Factors Of Dual Diagnosis?

The common risks that contribute to a dual diagnosis include genetics and trauma. When one or more of these factors impact a person’s susceptibility to mental illness or addiction, it can lead to a dual diagnosis.

Studies have shown a link between genetic background and comorbid alcohol use disorder, mood, and anxiety disorders. Trauma in an individual’s upbringing through adulthood can also contribute to vulnerability to SUDs and mental illness. People who have been through difficult experiences, especially ones they’ve been unable to process, may develop mental health issues, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression as a result. Challenges with coping with these memories and experiences can also lead to using substances to “cope” with the negative emotions.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Harmony Junction Recovery

A comprehensive treatment plan for a person with a dual diagnosis requires many of the same elements as addiction treatment. We also incorporate specialty portions into dual diagnosis, including dual-focused therapies and mental health assessments. At Harmony Junction’s dual diagnosis program, you can expect opportunities to participate in the following:

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how to get started.